Friday, December 9, 2016

Godspeed John Glenn -- 1921 - 2016

As years go by, we get farther from the pioneering days of space travel.  Back in the 60s we had guys with the "Right Stuff" who strapped themselves to the top of ICBM missiles which the warhead was swapped with a small "spam can" space capsule. The problem was (at least with the Atlas rocket) the thing had a tendency to explode on launch, which later was reduced enough to a "safer" level that an astronaut could be put on top.
The race was on, and Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space - and orbit - while the United States only stuck our toes into space on brief launches with Redstone rockets.
Yesterday we lost John Glenn - the last of the original Mercury 7 astronauts at 95 years old.  Another chapter of early manned spaceflight has closed forever.   John had a good 95 years.  First American to actually ORBIT the earth, even came back early when there was indication that his heat shield may be deployed.  He later was "too valuable" to fly in space again, so he left NASA went into politics as a democratic senator.  He left politics in 1997.  He bugged
 and nagged NASA for 2 years to convince them to let him fly in space again on the space shuttle.  His successful plan of "studying what happens to old people in space" won them over and they let him fly as an experimental subject in October 1998 on STS-95 on Discovery.
Very cool that he was on both ends of the manned space program (up to that time - we'll have Dragon, Orion, or some other manned spacecraft in the US fleet one of these days!).

What a life!

You should run your life not by the calendar but how you feel, and what you're interests are and ambitions.
Read more at:
 You should run your life not by the calendar but how you feel, and what your interests are and ambitions.  -- John Glenn
You should run your life not by the calendar but how you feel, and what you're interests are and ambitions. John Glenn
Read more at:

You should run your life not by the calendar but how you feel, and what you're interests are and ambitions. John Glenn
Read more at:
You should run your life not by the calendar but how you feel, and what you're interests are and ambitions. John Glenn
Read more at:

John and the original 7
With Freedom 7 - first US to orbit
...and another 7 - on STS-95

Monday, August 8, 2016

Perseid Meteor Shower - August 11-12

We have had a few inquiries about the Perseid meteor shower in the club email.  As usual, we aren't planning any events since lately it seems that anytime we try something, the clouds always find out and crash our party!
Yes, I am a firm believer in Global Climate Change - no matter what certain government people say (without getting political - you know who they are!).
I came across a cool infographic that shows pretty much everything you need for viewing the meteor shower.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Apollo 11 landing - 47 years later.

A few days ago it was 47 years since Neil and Buzz landed on the moon (let's not forget Mike Collins in orbit in the CM!) and became the first humans to walk on the moon.
The Smithsonian has been scanning the inside of the CM "Columbia" to exact details.  There is an article on the page showing how they carefully did this. 
Here is an extremely cool virtual reality view inside the spacecraft.  If you explore around, you'll even find notes here and there that the crew wrote on the walls.   Now I just need to find some VR goggles of some sort for my iPhone and I could really play astronaut!

View from Neil's seat

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jupiter season is here!

Been a while once again since I posted new images, but finally got some clear skies again.  Jupiter is well past opposition, and slowly getting smaller.  Not enough yet to give a bad view though.
I also finally figured out how to use BackyardEOS and the "new" Canon 60Da for planetary imaging.  I finally ditched the $20 Ebay webcam method - at least for planetary images.
Also processing a different way now to which is easier and seems to have better results.  Run the .AVI file through Astrostakkert first to evaluate and stack the images.  Then load into Registax and use the Wavelets feature to adjust the detail and sharpness of the image.  In the past I was using Registax for everything, and the evaluation/stacking is just a bit more complicated on that software that I never quite mastered it well.  When I though I did, the next version would come out and complicate things more!
Jupiter with Io shadow (just before seeing went to crap)

Nice view of the GRS

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Something to remember during election insanity.

Every 4 years we go through this ordeal of electing a new world leader for the US. Not sure if it's social media that makes it even more annoying every time, or humanity is really getting that clueless. I'm not pointing fingers in this. Keeping this posting generic and in the "middle".
Gay/Straight, black/white/red/brown, employed/unemployed, rich/poor, ugly/handsome, Bernie/Hillary/Trump/Cruz, healthy/sick, fat/anorexic, smart/stupid, hairy/bald, religious/atheist, terrorist/victim, literate/illiterate, NRA/no guns, tall/short, Democrat/Republican/Communist, old/ get the point.
I've posted this before, but with another terrorist attack and other current events, just take a few minutes, clear your mind, turn up the volume and watch this.
Carl Sagan was so right -- but people always seem to forget.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Finally! Observatory can probably be called "operational".

I recently got the observatory running on remote control through wireless connection to the home network.  Not that it was difficult, but just since I finally tried to open a port through Windows firewall to allow remote access since I was blocked from the network by all that protection. 
It's connected though an 802.11AC connection.  I forget the speeds off hand, but somewhere around 400+ Mbs when I have the antenna set right.  That's fast enough for a decent remote desktop connection.
Here is one of the first images taken totally on remote control.  It was about 29 degrees out that night and just miserable outside - but very clear.  I ran out and hooked up the camera, aligned, got calibrated the autoguiding, focused what I needed to focus, then ran back in the house.
It all worked very well!  I did have some minor dome/scope alignment issues, but I'll work on that.  
Here is the Horsehead and Flame nebulas in Orion.  7 images at around 5 minutes each, ISO 800 and a few at 1000, Canon 60DA with CLS filter, imaged through Orion 80ED, guided with Starshoot autoguider on a 50mm finder. 

A little snow, but cleared up nicely after this.
Success! Indoor control of the observatory.

Not a bad image of Horsehead.  Easy to see the darker skies here at Crest!